Independent MP Bob Katter has backed calls in Parliament to require Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu to explain her past membership of groups linked to the Chinese Communist Party.
The maverick Queenslander laughed off his decision to sit alongside Ms Liu in a key vote in Parliament on Monday by saying he made a mistake and "nearly died of shock" when he realised who was next to him.
While Mr Katter voted with the government to reject a Labor attempt to attack Prime Minister Scott Morrison, he said this did not mean he backed Ms Liu against Labor's call for her to speak in Parliament.
"I nearly died of shock when I found out who I was sitting next to," Mr Katter said.
"I buried my head in my hands for about eight different reasons."
One reason, he said, was he realised he had generated a "fluke" for the media by rushing to the nearest seat when required to vote on the Labor motion against Mr Morrison.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese moved to suspend question time on Monday to level several accusations against Mr Morrison, including that he had prevented Ms Liu from making a full explanation to Parliament.
The government used its narrow majority to silence the debate, with Mr Katter rushing to sit with Liberals and Nationals - and alongside Ms Liu - to stop the Labor motion.
Photographers in the press gallery began photographing Ms Liu and Mr Katter but the Queenslander covered his face with his hands once he realised what was happening.
Mr Katter said he agreed with an earlier Labor move to require Ms Liu to speak to Parliament and explain her past membership of groups such as the Guangdong provincial chapter of the China Overseas Exchange Association.
"I think she's got questions to answer and I thought it was reasonable for Albanese to ask for an explanation," Mr Katter said after question time.
He said there was an accusation that she had a relationship that should not have permitted her to be a candidate for Parliament.
"And if that was not the case she should want to mount a very definite defence in Parliament."
Mr Katter said it was "most reasonable" for Labor to ask for this explanation.
"Whether that clears her name or further implicates her is for others to judge, not me," he said.
Others have backed Ms Liu and dismissed claims of any association with Chinese communists, with former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu saying she was "terrific".
- SMH/The Age